Friday, March 3, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 12:01 (Sophia) 


Universal untimed (Jim) 


USA Today 4:12(Darby) 


Rebecca Goldstein’s Inkubator crossword, “Opening the Door”—Jenni’s write-up

Rebecca Goldstein is now on the list of constructors whose names make me smile as soon as I open the puzzle. I don’t think this one was as challenging as the Inkubator team suggested. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

This time the circles are an intrinsic part of the theme. I like them better that way. Each circle contains a rebus.

Inkubator, March 2, 2023, Rebecca Goldstein, “Opening the Door,” solution grid

  • 17a [Not serious] is JO{KEY} crossing 3d [Usher’s request], TA{KE Y}OUR SEAT.
  • 21a [Urgent response to “How soon do you need it?”] is LI{KE Y}ESTERDAY crossing 6d [Adult Happy Meal purveyor, familiarly], MIC{KEY} DS.
  • 58a [It might be used to make wings] is BLAC{K EY}ELINER crossing 44d [Bit of Renaissance Faire fare], TUR{KEY} LEG.

And the revealer: 31d [“Fun Home” ode to a butch lesbian….and a hint to 3 squares in this puzzle] is RING OF KEYS. Nice theme! The song was new to me because I don’t know that show (my bad) and it’s worth watching.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that song. Also that the OSU mascot is named Brutus Buckeye.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “What’s the Meaning of This?”—Jim P’s review

English can be a ridiculous language. Take today’s puzzle theme. It presents phrases that can mean one thing in one context but also the near-opposite in a different context.

Universal crossword solution · “What’s the Meaning of This?” · Paul Coulter · Fri., 3.3.23

  • 17a. [Getting off the line OR putting on the line?] HANGING UP.
  • 30a. [Ensured the continuation of OR rejected?] PASSED ON.
  • 46a. [Starting, as an alarm OR stopping, as an alarm?] GOING OFF.
  • 63a. [Battle alongside OR battle against?] FIGHT WITH.

Single words that can mean their own opposites are called auto-antonyms or contronyms, and there are plenty of examples (dust, sanction, screen, etc.). Is there a term for a phrase that does this? A phrasal contronym?

Anyhoo, this was an enjoyable theme; I always like examining the weirdities of the English language. I’m sure there are plenty more of these types of phrases, so I was hoping for a little bit more. I’d think the grid could handle more since we only have four theme entries and they’re only 10- and 9-letters long each.

But a light theme makes for fine long fill, and we get some goodies today in BELLY DANCE, “REMAIN CALM,” and “ASK AWAY!,” as well as BAGGIES and SIGNPOST (a word that I can only hear in Rod Serling’s voice).

Clues of note:

  • 9a. [Problem with a picture?]. REBUS. Ooh. Nice clue. Don’t think I’ve seen this one before.
  • 42a. [Maker of the 2600, 5200 and 7800 game consoles]. ATARI. Oh man! Taking me back to my childhood with this clue! We had the 2600 when it came out in 1977, and Adventure was my first video game love. But there were other great games: Empire Strikes Back, Haunted House, and of course Pitfall (which I recently learned had a commercial featuring a young Jack Black).

Nice puzzle. The theme is on the light side, but it’s interesting, and the fill is lovely. 3.75 stars.

Amie Walker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/3/23 • Fri • Walker • solution • 20230303

  • 50aR [“Stay alert,” or a phonetic hint to the answers to the starred clues] KEEP AN EYE OUT. To wit, the letter I has been dropped from the original phrases and the wackified result has been clued appropriately.
  • 19a. [*Relocation specialist?] MOVE PRODUCER (movie producer).
  • 26a. [*Chiropractor who treats mollusks?] CLAM ADJUSTER (claim adjuster).
  • 42a. [*Lift for Mom’s mom?] GRAN ELEVATOR (grain elevator).

These are … ok? But not exactly set-the-barn-on-fire. The whole thing might’ve been tighter if the two entries that are almost as long as the themers (17a & 55a) had been replaced by a fourth example, perhaps in the middle of the grid. I realize that’s a big ask. Also, maybe eschewing the use of the letter I throughout the grid? Another thing that’s far easier said than done, of course.

  • 9d [Yard sale?] ALE. I believe I’ve seen a bona fide yard of ALE exactly once in my life.
  • 48d [Reunion attendees] AUNTS. Strange that there’s no qualifier, like ‘some’.
  • 5a [ __ Jansen: kid-lit detective with a photographic memory] CAM. Now I’m wondering if it’s a nickname for an actual name, a playful shortening of camera, or functions as both.
  • 15a [Facial tissue additive] ALOE. I was thinking of somatic tissue!
  • 41a [Walk quartet] BALLS. Oh, baseball.
  • 45a [Tag line?] NOT IT. Cute. But it has been seen before, quite a few times. I still like it.
  • 55a [Evasive reply to “Why do you ask?”] OH NO REASON. Also good.
  • 61a [Jazz legend James] ETTA. She’s more of a blues and R&B legend.

(see also this extraordinary 1975 life performance)

Eric Warren’s New York Times Crossword – Sophia’s write up

New York Times, 03 03 2023, By Eric Warren

Hi folks, Sophia subbing today for Amy – sorry for the late write up!

This one took me a bit longer than a normal Friday, but I don’t think it was too out there in terms of difficulty – some days you are just on the constructor’s wavelength when it comes to entries/tricky clues, and some days you are not. Examples – I tried so hard to get some version of “puppeteer” to work for [Professional at pulling strings?] instead of PIANO TUNER, and I had “beer garden” instead of BEER FRIDGE for the longest time. Also, second Friday in a row with a makeup-related long answer!

Fill highlights: the entire bottom stack of CARNE ASADA/BRAIN CELLS/CYBERSQUAT, FIRE EATER,  KATANAS as clued by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

New to me: that “choice chickens” are CAPONS, KAMAL Haasan, LARB.

Congrats to Eric on a great debut!

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword, “TKTKTK”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Matthew Stock's USA Today crossword, "TKTKTK" solution for 3/3/2023

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword, “TKTKTK” solution for 3/3/2023

Theme: The title is “TKTKTK,” which indicates fill to come in graphic design and in this puzzle, three themers with T and K as starting letters fill in parts of this grid.

Theme Answers

  • 18a [“Whistling stovetop item”] TEA KETTLE
  • 38a [“State capital where Gwendolyn Brooks was born”] TOPEKA, KANSAS
  • 61a [“Part of a place setting”] TABLE KNIFE

I filled in all of these pretty quickly. I loved plunking in TOPEKA, KANSAS as a fun fact whose crosses made it so easy to recognize the city and state combination. TEA KETTLE fell in right away, as did TABLE KNIFE via the Down answers.

There were so many things I enjoyed about this puzzle, particularly the open upper corners with 2d [“Me again!’] I’M BACK, 10d [“Tall, reedy plant”] CATTAIL, 11d [“‘Violeta’ author Isabel” ALLENDE, and 12d [“Barrel with a tap”] BEER KEG. Additionally, IRE and OAR were fun to go between, feeling not so different, and I liked the cluing angle on 38d [“___ over (sustain for now)”] TIDE. Also, ZONE and ZOOMS were fun crosses for 36d [“‘Worst Picture’ award”] RAZZIE.

The bottom right part of the puzzle was also really great, with 57a [“2019 Harry Styles album”] FINE LINE and 65a [“Like someone who experiences little to no sexual and romantic attraction, for short”] AROACE. I also got a kick out of 63d [“Most board games comes in one”] BOX being so close to 54d [“Jigsaw puzzle component”] PIECE. You know, just some cute puzzle and game stuff.

All in all, super fun.

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12 Responses to Friday, March 3, 2023

  1. David L says:

    NYT: Pretty solid puzzle overall but I have some quibbles. I don’t know what 3D refers to. The crossing at 40A/40D could be a problem (I knew 40A, but only from previous crosswords). And I am doubtful about 39D — surely that’s done by machine.

    • PJ says:

      3d – I took it as a voice mail prompt, “Leave a message after the beep.”

    • Mutman says:

      Great Friday puzzle.

      Agree that 40A/40D square was unknown to me. Just plowed thru the alphabet until success.

    • JohnH says:

      That crossing defeated me, too. I overall found this a very hard Friday, but most of the discoveries were interesting.

    • Jim G says:

      I’m surprised to see multiple people complaining about KATANA. Even if you have never even heard of Donatello except as an artist, how many types of swords are there that a “Ninja Turtle” might use?

  2. billy boy says:


    Very nice puzzle marred but not ruined by a couple of just awful crosses mostly with ‘stuff’. So be it. Some nice wordplay with unexpected verb masquerade as noun or the reverso – but TMNT crossing a sub-continental film star? Pick a mid-alphabet consonant for $50! (Came down to J or K ) Still a nice Friday, what brought me back to puzzles after 9 months off.

    Personally I love this sort of puzzle shape – only two threes and a few fours then you need to have an in or two and maybe a good guess to open things up. Yes!

  3. JohnH says:

    TNY is not what you expect from a Friday, although Friday puzzles vary greatly in difficulty. It’s totally “you know it or you don’t” fill, like on a lousy Monday. Even the “revealer” is a TV show. How close I come to finishing is hard to say, but discouraging and no fun. I guess others will eat up all this stuff, and they’re entitled to live in that universe, without question. But not my idea of how one should be expected to solve.

    Stranger yet, the theme amounts to a single four-letter words. That’s all she wrote when it comes to circled letters. Hardly a theme at all, really, since the true feet would be constructig a puzzle without those letters!

  4. Matthew Goodman says:

    NYT: Enjoyed this puzzle! A lot of lively fill. And extra credit for getting FIRE EATERS next to CLOWN MAKEUP!

Comments are closed.